Chapter 1: Wulf
It was bewildering to the boy. He had been perfectly happy living in the northern wooded wilds for his entire life, hunting, fishing, trapping- It had been a great life. Sure, his mother had been an idealistic hippie, but she had let him live the ideal boy’s life. Since his father had been long gone, taking off on his Harley when Wulf was quite young, saying “I’ll be back soon,” (he hadn’t, ever!), Wulf pretty much raised himself. He liked it that way!
And now, on the cusp of manhood at seventeen years, he was told by a state appointed lawyer that he was being sent to Chicago, Illinois for his own good.
“Wulf,” said the principal of his tiny high school, Mr. Sandry. “Now that your mother has passed on, the state attorney has located your nearest living relative- in fact your only known living relative- your grandmother Gott in Chicago. You will be required to live with her there until your graduation next year from high school.”
Wulf glared down at Mr. Sandry, but not with anger. Sandry was a kindly, white haired old gent with spectacles and suspenders, but had been a very good teacher, and then a very good principal. Wulf was glaring with frustration.
“I’ve been supporting the both of us for years,” he said reasonably. “My mother was a wonderful, gentle soul, and always has been, but she was not really a practical sort of person. Just leave me be in my cabin, and I’ll be fine,” he said. As he spoke, he gestured with strong, calloused hands. Mr. Sandry noted the broad shoulders and muscular arms of the youth, which were already far beyond that of most grown men.
“I’m sorry, Wulf- I’ve already argued that point, but the law is the law. You are enrolled to start school in Chicago next week, so head on down and get moved in with your grandmother. I’ll watch after your place until you get back; don’t worry, it’ll be good for you to get away from this wilderness and into a civilized, cosmopolitan big city for a while!” And he smiled reassuringly. Truth be told, the large, rough youth seemed a poor fit for a big city; but he didn’t say anything. The law was what it was, even up here in this remote part of the country.
They shook hands, and Wulf strode out of the small, one room school building he had attended his entire life. Although he thrived out in the woods, fields, bluffs and streams, he also had been keenly interested in learning, particularly history. He had read every single book in the school library, some more than once, and fortunately for him the school had been well stocked with all of the classics of literature. There had never been enough money to indulge in all the latest “fads”, like “urban lit” and “multiculturalism”. Just the basics: the Constitution of the United States, history of ancient Greece and Rome, Germanic tribal law and Viking mythology. The books and traditions upon which modern America and western civilization had been designed and built had shaped his education.
Back at his cabin in the woods, Wulf started packing. He sure didn’t have a lot to do, since he had a few rough pairs of jeans, boots, t-shirts and flannel shirts, and that was about it. There was no electricity to turn off, or plumbing to worry about, since he had neither. He strode out onto the board porch, and looked out across the field to the woods beyond. Sheer bluff walls rose up on all sides of the cabin, and only towards the front, leading to the west was there a rough road. Thousands of wild acres of the reservation were all about his land, teeming with wildlife, and such had supported his mother’s and his life since he was quite young. He could shoot like a native, in fact he was as much of a native here as any, having spent his entire life in these woods.
He heard a branch crack, and looked to where it originated. “Hey there, Kimosabi!” called a voice.
He smiled. “Nikan, my friend, your woodcraft is getting sloppy. You could not sneak up on a sleeping dog, making such noise.” The Indian youth, holding up a branch in his hands, again broke it for effect.
“If I wanted to not be heard, even you would not know I was near,” he said. Climbing the porch steps, he indeed did not make a sound, his mocassined feet gliding smoothly as he moved with a lithe, graceful economy of motion. His black hair was in marked contrast to the tawny color of Wulf’s, although both swept the long locks carelessly back from their faces. Wolf’s blue eyes were startling in contrast to those of Nikan’s deep brown. Although rather tall, the Indian youth barely reached the height of Wulf’s shoulders. They had been friends since childhood, and hunting partners as well.
“I’m sure you’ve heard that I’ll be leaving,” said Wulf, pointing to the south.
“Yes, the news has spread fast. My people in the reservation all know, and my mother and father tell me they will watch over your place, as will I. They send their blessings.”
Wulf nodded gravely. Nikan and his tribe had done as much to raise him, nay more, than any of his own blood. “My friend, I will count the hours until I can return to my homeland. I am a wild blooded creature, and the thought of concrete, huge buildings, and so many people sickens me more than any thought of privation or hardship.”
Nikan nodded. He remembered many privations and hardships undergone by the hulking youth who was his closest friend, all of which Wulf had endured and triumphed over in the end. No one in the region would dare compare his prowess to that of Wulf, who had, in raising himself pretty much, turned himself into a mighty thewed hunter with catlike strength and quickness. He had even killed a bear single-handedly with a knife once when cornered, saving both his and Nikan’s life!
“Goodbye my friend!” he said, holding out his lean hand to his large, strong white friend, who shook it heartily.
Next, Wulf went to speak with Akula, the medicine man of the tribal village. This man was basically his pastor, his spiritual guide to all things of Nature and of the gods of Nature. He knocked on the small wooden hut that Akula lived in all alone, and the medicine man emerged, stooping effortlessly through the low door.
Akula was tall; as tall as Wulf, but very lean where the youth was muscular. His high cheek bones and black eyes proclaimed his native ancestry to the Americas, and his traditional garb of buckskin clothing and dark headband proclaimed his allegiance to his heritage. Smiling slightly, he put his hand on Wulf’s broad shoulder in a fatherly gesture.
“I am glad you have come to say farewell,” said the medicine man. “The Great Spirit of my people has told me of your journey, and tells me that trouble will come to you in this strange land to which you go. A land of little Nature, and too much of man! Be cautioned, and do not forget your origin in the wilds.” He grasped a shining necklace that he wore about his neck, and withdrew it over his head. Placing it over the head of the youth, he nodded approvingly at the way the blue topaz and jade gleamed upon the talisman against the sun bronzed skin of Wulf’s muscular chest. The topaz seemed to mirror the startling blueness of the white youth’s eyes as he gazed back at Akula. “This token of my power, given by my father to me, and his father to him, and back and back, will be helpful to you. You can reach me in your hour of need, using it- I will hear you, and send aid!”
“Thank you, grandfather,” said Wulf, fingering the necklace. He had been calling him grandfather since a young boy, at the medicine man’s request. “I will not use it unless I must!” The youth had seen many things done by this medicine man; things that people from civilized lands would not believe. It would blast their reason to witness such sights that by their standards were utterly impossible!
Akula’s eyes crinkled as he smiled, showing even white teeth, although his shining white hair proclaimed him to be quite elderly. “I know, my son. Although not of our blood, you have become the mightiest among us, and the foremost in championing our ancient ways. You know the ways of Nature, and the great spirit, and so I have taken you in my special care and protection!”
The youth bowed slightly, as did Akula, and then the two parted, as Wulf walked slowly away. He knew he would miss the guidance of this tribal elder, who had taught him so much of the way of the wilds.